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We posted our first CBS All Access review back in the early days of the service. We were relatively kind to the fledgling service, which offered a large on-demand catalog as well as live streaming in certain regions. CBS All Access has had plenty of time since then to fix the concerns we did have, including excessive commercials and a relatively high price point. Now we’re back with another CBS All Access review. Has anything changed?

CBS All Access Review

User experience

CBS All Access - Interface

The CBS All Access user experience was pretty competent on all of the apps I tried. The apps sort the content into two basic sections – live TV and on-demand content. The on-demand content is further sorted into helpful sub-categories like “prime time,” so finding the right show for you is pretty simple.

CBS All Access - Interface

The app is good at getting you watching right away – the web app will even start playing something while you choose. The video controls are pretty easy, though I was not able to pause live TV in my trials.

Content

CBS All Access review
CBS All Access as seen in the in-browser app

The primary appeal of CBS All Access is the live stream of CBS that is available to many – but not all – subscribers. If you live in a participating region, you'll be able to watch CBS live online through CBS All Access. Here is a list of the markets where that's possible.

One major improvement since our first CBS All Access review has been the inclusion of NFL on CBS. NFL games were blacked out on the live stream when we reviewed the service last fall, but that changed this past December. That's huge news for NFL fans.

The on-demand content here is quite robust, with over 8,500 episodes of CBS network shows available. Unfortunately, you'll have to watch commercials at various points during your show unless you're willing to upgrade to the $9.99/month commercial-free plan – which will remove ads from the on-demand content, but not from live TV.

As for the shows themselves, you know the drill: CBS has hits like The Big Bang Theory and NCIS. You'll also be able to watch episodes from older shows like The Twilight Zone.

Streaming quality

Streaming quality was decent on CBS All Access, but this won't be the most praise-filled section of our CBS All Access review. I found video quality dipped at times, and when I used a mobile device without Wi-Fi, I had some significant troubles and even had my video time out on me. That may have had to do with my network (Verizon) and the service I was getting at the time, but other apps tended to do better than CBS All Access in this situation.

Generally, though, the streaming quality was pretty acceptable. It didn't blow me away, but the video stayed in HD for the overwhelming majority of the time and was generally pretty smooth.

What devices can you watch CBS All Access on?

Device support is a strong suit for CBS All Access. You'll be able to watch on Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, iOS, and Android devices, plus the PS4, Xbox One, and on your computer via the in-browser app. Chromecast is also supported.

How much does CBS All Access cost?

CBS All Access will set you back $5.99/month for the standard plan, which includes commercials in on-demand content. Since our first CBS All Access review, CBS has introduced a new commercial-free plan for $9.99/month. As I mentioned earlier, however, “commercial-free” only applies to on-demand content – live TV will still have commercials, just as it does with cable or over-the-air.

The really good news is that, like many other streaming services, CBS All Access offers a free trial. While we've outlined a great deal of what works and what doesn't for CBS All Access, it's always a good idea to try a service out yourself before you pay anything. Check out the CBS All Access free trial here.

Verdict: a service for super-fans, but not for everyone

CBS All Access has improved since our first CBS All Access review, but my reaction is still pretty much the same.

The big appeal here, to me, is the access to live CBS streams. But $5.99/month is a little steep for just one channel – for $20 or $30, you could sign up for a skinny bundle and get multiple major networks and a bunch of other channels as well. And that's to say nothing of the overpriced $9.99/month commercial-free option.

CBS All Access is a quality service, but for the price tag to be worth it, I think you'd need to check a few boxes: you'd need to be a die-hard CBS fan (and not care much about other channels); you'd need to be in one of the markets that gets a live CBS stream as part of CBS All Access; and you'd need to not have a better option for getting CBS, like over-the-air broadcasts.

If all that is true of you, I wholeheartedly recommend CBS All Access. But if one of those things isn't true of your situation, you may want to consider a skinny bundle or an over-the-air antenna.

42 thoughts on “CBS All Access Review: For CBS Super-Fans Only

  1. Patricia says:

    I love CBS All Access. I have a digital antenna to watch TV and use CBS All Access all the time, especially when grandchildren want something. I can watch my show when they sleep. Cheaper than cable.

  2. Mark Matthews says:

    I have a problem with the strategy/premise of this service, and to me, it looks like CBS is pretty greedy. I don’t have a problem, per se, with CBS offering an upgraded pay service like this (although 5.99 a month seems steep like the author states). But there also should be another baseline FREE CBS streaming channel for everyone paying for CBS already through their cable provider!

    For example, on my Roku, I have the NBC, ABC, Fox, and CW channels – all of them are free. Where is the CBS version of these channels?!

    They call it greed.

    1. JR says:

      Not very smooth. Loading issues, commercial freezes. Reboot.
      I wish the advertisers new how this device constantly has problems.

      1. Rhonda Mattson says:

        I agree. It is so painful to use commercial free and have it freeze. We exit out and, if lucky, we get resume button, select it and can get back in where we were. Usually it has watch button which means we have to manually find where we were.

        1. GREG says:

          Constantly get stuck on “Loading” on commercials only. Show work just fine. Can wait 3 to 5 minutes for commercials to load.

      2. Michael F Stewart says:

        I had cbs all access before and had free access to all programming. Now several of the shows require extra payment which is especially disturbing since I can record them off youtube tv. It s little deceptive to call this all access.

      3. Sharon Stone says:

        I continually have the same issues

    2. Jeff says:

      CBS does offer free streaming of recent network shows. But it doesn’t work and they don’t care. A service ticket entered 10 days ago has not been acknowledged. I phone call resulted in an agent putting me on hold for 5 minutes and then telling me it was fixed. But it was not. I use multiple streaming services, paid and unpaid and CBS is the only one that:

      Buffers every 15 to 30 seconds.
      Goes back to the beginning unexpectedly and when repositioned, plays every commercial from the beginning to that point – sometimes more than once.
      Changes quality as it plays.

    3. Kristi Knudson says:

      I totally agree with you. they seem to like to take out money out of my account that they have no right to take and when I asked them about it they don’t answer me. I wouldn’t recommend CBS all access to my worst enemy to tell you the truth!

  3. Jeff C says:

    I would be more drawn to this service if they included all episodes of their current shows instead of just the last 7 episodes. Being able to watch ‘Big Bang Theory’ from start to finish would make worth the $9.99.

  4. SickOf MediaIndustry says:

    The appeal of streaming service is a very large selection of content. CBS does not have enough content to be worth $10 a month, or even $5 a month. The same applies to Disney.

    I cut the cord several years ago when Comcast jacked the cable TV bill up from about $55 to $140+ a month, while utility dropped. Content providers think they are going do the same with streaming, but if that happens I will continue to increase content on my own server, and simply drop streaming services.

  5. Kmmk says:

    REALLY! YOU ARE LOW LOW LOW. Just found out that the new Star Trek series is on this streaming service ONLY. RIDICULOUS. Thanks for trying to lure trekkies to buy your streaming service. I am very UPSET by the creators of this new Star Trek series for limiting viewing to many people who love/like Star Trek. You are being GREEDY. And, you are making hard for newcomers to Star Trek to continue the legacy of Star Trek with a new show. I won’t pay for it and – thanks for making me miss out the new series. I mean I pay enough for my Comcast cable. You say that it is “only $5.99/mo.” But $5.99 here and there adds up to a lot. So the people that I am MOST upset with – because they are uncaring and greedy to make money without consideration to people’s feelings – are the CREATORS of this show for limiting its viewing ability and selecting CBS All Access to air it on. REALLY! So, I will say that if this show isn’t good enough for NBC or ABC or another top network found on regular cable (which I already pay for), then this new Star Trek show must not be as good. I will not be manipulated to sign up for CBS All ACCESS or any streaming service just to watch this new show that is a bait to pay. AGAIN, RIDICULOUS. I don’t need to watch this new “STAR TREK” SHOW to still be a big trekkie.

    1. Jeff says:

      Episode 1 was made available free on YouTube. You can preview to see if the series is worth it. I thought it might be but even the free CBS stream does not work for me and many others, so they can keep the rest.

  6. cribber says:

    Signed up for this so I can get a few shows and sunday football. Got an email from CBS today saying there is double header on. I sign in and get paid advertising. I pay a monthly fee and still have the paid hour long commercials.

    The service is really not worth it unless you take advantage of the old shows. Even then there are loads of commercials to deal with.

    Seems like greed to me.

    Oh, and try to find a way to contact someone… takes a long time to filter through.

  7. Leona says:

    Does the CBS soap operas play on Roku (The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful)?

  8. Tina says:

    Does anyone know how to get the Fire Stick to show the right local channels for CBS All Access? Our is showing the wrong local channels.

  9. Terry says:

    We purchased the 1 year plan with the hope of watching NFL games broadcast by CBS and a few other programs. The network programs have worked just fine but the NFL broadcasts have not. Three weeks we had no access and several others the broadcast had a horrible picture to the extent that we were unable to watch. I don’t understand the problem but we contacted CBS customer service informed them of the problem and nothing has come of it.
    They are really bad at streaming NFL games.

  10. Kim Hudson says:

    I am so mad, and I feel lied to. I cut the cord several months back, and recently got CBS All Access to catch up before the new seasons start. If you want to see the finales of your favorite shows, you’d better co firm they are here. Most are not. CBS All Access isn’t all access at all!

  11. Gaye Earlywine says:

    I just cancelled CBS All Access after a one month trial. I found it difficult to navigate, but the worst thing is that many episodes are missing. As another person said, it isn’t All Access at all. If it were free, it would be acceptable, but to pay for it is ridiculous.

  12. Tom Williams says:

    Just found out most shows that are currently on only have current season and not past seasons. False or incomplete advertising. No refunds on already paid subscriptions if cancelling. Of course, My annual fee was just posted a week ago. I hate CBS.

  13. Brent says:

    I agree with the previous review (Kim Hudson). If you want to be the victim of a classic bait & switch, try CBS All Access. About six weeks ago, I paid for one year of commercial-free service. I was able to finish the first season of one of my favorite programs, Seal Team. I then watched about half of season 2. When I signed on last night, seasons one and two were gone, and only episode one of season 3 was available. I called their support number, who blamed the issue on licensing regulations. I understand licensing, but this is a CBS original. After talking to a manager, I was able to get a refund for 85% of my service, despite their “strict no-refund policy.” When I asked where I might find Seal Team, the customer-service manager told me to try Amazon Prime. I just signed up for a 30-day trial of Prime, and what do you know? There is “CBS All Access on Amazon” for $5.99+ per month. The crooks at CBS just re-sold our subscriptions to Amazon. Caveat emptor.

  14. robizmo says:

    …Without doubt, CBS All Access is the WORST app, crashing, failing, halting, on a daily basis. There is no problem with Netflix, Hulu, and all others. To add insult to injury: it costs over $75 per year. Quality of service is horrible: and the content is not much better, just to get the local Sinclair station…NOT WORTH IT IN THE LEAST. Absolute crap.

    1. C barry says:

      I second that. The app is crap and i can barely get through an episode of anything. What junk it is.

    2. godfather says:

      I agree with you 150%. It is the worst app ever. If I am lucky, I can get the app to play so that I can watch a few episodes of Survivor. What a shame! I wish they would learn from Amazon Prime, Netflix, or even NBC.

  15. Joanne says:

    Word of warning to all contemplating CBS All Access: I have had the $5.99/mon plan for almost a year. 3 months ago advertisements began to freeze during play. No problem with the shows, just the advertisements, and was so annoying, sometimes would take 10 minutes for them to become unfrozen. I dreaded so much I’d avoid CBS All Access at all costs. The Customer Service at CBS All Access was completely NONexistent…they forgot to practice the “Service” in CS! They could only suggest I reboot my modem which I did at least a dozen times; called and emailed repeatedly and NOTHING. Just a bunch of condescending moronic suggestions that went nowhere. It’s still not resolved and unless they do fix it, I will NOT renew. There are too many other streaming networks from which to choose. I suspect it’s their way to try to convince you to pay more for the higher priced advertisement free version! Really low!

  16. Christopher Real says:

    Certain holiday shows won’t air on Live Stream. Not a big issue but I would like to know when certain programs won’t air in my area.

  17. Shawn says:

    Even though CBS and Viacom have merged, don’t expect much from older CBS TV Productions, Paramount Pictures, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, or Nickelodeon library. I just don’t get how you merge a company, and then refuse to air ANY material that would be beneficial for your fan base. Oh that’s right, like everyone else who has reviewed the service (that isn’t picking out a coffin for themselves), it’s just plain old GREED!!!

  18. Eileen says:

    We added CBS All Access last month when Blue Bloods was taken off Netflix because we were half way through the series. It is terrible. If you try to get out and switch to another episode of Blue Bloods it freezes and you cannot get into it or into anything else — really disappointing. Definitely not worth 10.99 a month.

  19. Jack A. Money says:

    The App functioned poorly the first time I tried it. It has gotten better. They offered me an extra free month trial, but then charged me for it. Disappointed they did this.

    1. godfather says:

      They did the same to me. Bunch of losers.

  20. Mary Omadigan says:

    Terrible streaming very fuzzy pic and all other apps I use are perfect. CBS sux!
    Using Amazon fire stick with high speed internet. Don’t waste your money on this.

  21. Carlene Thusgaard says:

    I have been on the phone with CBS All Access so called technicians for hours since November. The same issues as others have noted. The programs stop and go to a different show, or I get an error message saying “try again”. It doesn’t work to start over or fast forward to where it stopped. They keep telling me that they will “escalate” the situation, but nothing happens. I’m going to drop it and try Amazon Prime. I’ve missed the past season of most of my favorite shows.

  22. Greg says:

    signed up for a free week to watch Picard. Very disappointed that it froze every minute or so, and then started up again. I also signed up for the commercial free package, and they showed a commercial when I logged in for the first time! I’ll give it one more chance, but after reading these reviews I am going to drop within the first week unless it works perfectly next time.

  23. Isaac Lang says:

    I just subscribed for 1 year, $99, and watched 2 episodes of Picard. I am very disappointed in the use of foul language, especially the F bombs, then when I tried to navigate to watch an episode of ST Voyager, nothing, they only offer you what THEY want you to watch. This is my shortest subscription in my internet history. In less than 2 hours I cancelled. FAKE TV!

  24. Lorraine S Jarvi says:

    We are being forced to sign in with that ultra-irritating, neanderthal TV keyboard every time we want to watch Picard, then put up with the ‘technical difficulties’ message and have to start over. When we finally get in to the program, the damn thing is momentarily pausing every 15 or 20 seconds, triggering the pause lines in the middle of the picture and interfering with the dialogue.

    Note to Picard: Offer your work through a credible provider, please!

    1. Ron charuk says:

      Signed up to watch The Good Fight season 4.Says it can be seen but nowhere found on the app.

  25. Mark says:

    This application sssauuuccckkksssss!!!!! The performance is garbage. Streaming is frequently interrupted ( except for commercials. They seem to have no problem there) and it will crash your systems. If you’re thinking about getting it, DON’T!!

  26. Scott Manspeaker says:

    Pros and cons. I discovered that CBS All Access has eliminated the “Continue Watching” feature for Roku devices. So every time you go back to a program you have watched you have to remember what episode you were on. They said it was a planned feature reduction. How crazy is that. Subscribing within Amazon fixes that problem but you don’t see all the CBS shows without a lot of work. I would not recommend using the CBS app directly. The support has been terrible.

  27. Jeff says:

    When it works it’s fine but half the time I try to watch it, the app won’t load. Other times I get no sound only video, it’s really a pain in my A$$ trying to use the app. I’m thinking about dropping it. Not worth my trouble.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Streaming quality is awful. Sometimes only audio loads, sometimes it freezes and sometimes it takes forever to load. Not worth the price unless you’re in the free trial period and even then, the aggravation may not be worth the time.

  29. HNEB48 says:

    This is the absolute worst streaming I have ever experienced. Constantly freezing and YES we have enough WiFi juice to manage this small amount. No other options have issues (Netflix, Hulu, etc.). Just CBS!

    I seriously only subscribe to watch The Good Fight. Shame on you CBS! You are charging people to watch a show ONLY you air and it takes two hours to watch one episode due to the constant freezing. Get it together! It’s 2020!

  30. WLTRPAYTON34 says:

    Well a couple of things. The shows are good, that is the plus side.
    The down side – There is some buffering issues but is not to bad.
    There are a lot of commercials for a paid streaming service.
    And when they start the 1-4 commercials most of the time it is in mid sentence.
    If you are going to put commercials in, they need to be in the scene breaks.
    You would think that a “Broadcasting Company” would know that.

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